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10 Tips For The Beginner Traveler to Tamarindo, Costa Rica

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As a total newbie to traveling I feel like a fraud writing this blog, but I wanted to share what I have learned on our adventure. If you are a frequent traveler out of your own country, STOP READING NOW. I will bore you to death. If you are new to traveling out of your own country this might be of interest. At least you will get a chuckle out of what we learned the hard way.

We have traveled a fair bit in the USA and into Mexico, but we just got passports for this, our very first adventure out of the country. We picked a beautiful spot, but this is not some package deal pre-planned trip. We are here and figuring it out as we go. Here are a few of the odd things I have learned about this little slice of heaven.

1. Costa Rica doesn’t name streets in small cities like Tamarindo, they name buildings. Make sure you can correctly pronounce the name of the place you are staying and can describe how to get where you are going, and that you know a few simple words in case you get a taxi driver who does not speak English.
izquierda- left
derecho- right
aquí- here
calle- street
adelante- ahead

It could be that possibly we learned this all the hard way. There is a difference between Boca Raca’ and Boca Roca. Our cab driver got yelled at because we were so lost.

2. Be prepared for night when visiting. Street lights are a premium and roads are not paved generally. Sidewalks are sketchy or nonexistent. Bring a flashlight. Bring a pair of tennis shoes for night walking. It is worth it to be prepared because there are some really great things to see at night.

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3. Time is not as important here as it is at home. Make sure you arrange for your ride early enough that if they are on beach time you can still make your flight. The rest of the time, chill out. A meal is going to take a long time. The grocery store takes a long time.

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4. They either have what you are looking for at the grocery or they don’t. The supermarket here is more like a city stop and shop or 7-11. If you have a certain brand you cannot live without, bring it. Sunscreen, toothpaste, shampoo, pain reliever are in the stores, but not US brands.

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5. Water is not served at meals, you have to buy it. Buy a big bottle for your table and share. Drink lots of water. Just get it in bottles.

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6. Few places are air conditioned. Just be prepared for the heat. Dress cool, and know you are probably going to eat meals in open air locations. It really is fun and the food is good. Sometimes it is breathtakingly beautiful.

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7. The price on everything is negotiable. Even posted prices for excursions are negotiable. As long as you are willing to walk away you will get a better deal. The shop in the photo below has posted prices for excursions. We did not pay those prices for anything.

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8. Check into renting a condo rather than a hotel room. The cost is comparable to hotels, there is more space and often offers amenities such a pool, parking space, and 24 hour security. This is the beauty we stayed in. If you are interested in this condo, send me a message.

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9. Change your US money into colons, the national currency. Right now the dollar is strong and you get a better deal. If you have US money have small bills. Come with 1’s, 5’s, 10’s. Most places will take US money, but they will probably give you change in colons. And you will get short changed.

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10. Bring Cipro and Pepto Bismol. Lesson learned. I promise, I did not drink the water and I was pretty careful about the food I ate but I sure picked up a bug that almost landed me in the hospital for dehydration. And I missed the tour of the vlocano which included seeing some awesome animals that Hubby photographed for me. The doctor said if I had taken Cipro at the first sign of illness I would have been better quickly. Call your doctor before leaving and let them know you are leaving the country.

11. Bonus tip. Have fun, talk with strangers, meet new people. We met people from Canada, England, Germany, Belgium, and France. Everyone is tired of winter in case you are wondering. Pura Vida is a common saying in Costa Rica, it means Pure Life literally translated but it really means the Costa Rican way. I wish you all Pura Vida.

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The Bucket List Begins

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This coming week we will be going to Costa Rica!

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You won’t be hearing from me this week. I am unplugging and spending quality time with my husband, brother in law and sister in law.

I promise to take pictures and I hope I come back inspired and refreshed.

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I hope you all have a wonderful week.

Blessings,

Karen

My Bathroom “Pinnspiration”

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I have been stuck when it comes to our master bath. It is a really large, very sterile, builder basic bathroom with the huge, rarely used tub, awful lighting and the worst storage ever. The vanity I made over is helping with some of the storage, and gave me a direction to head with the room. I still had some places that were just wearing me out.

Do you have spots in your house that just make you tired just looking at them? I do. Master bath is number one on that list. I did what I do when I am stuck. I went to Pinterest, and I went shopping. On my weekend adventure to Canton, we picked up a few things for my bathroom. They are probably not things you would think of as bathroom items, but they are to me. I recently discovered that we do not have a towel bar in our bathroom. How did I miss that? I mean how did I miss that for two months? I was constantly frustrated that towels wer on the floor, but it never hit me that Hubby did not have a place for his towel. I hang my towel across the edge of the tub to dry, but let’s just say not everyone who uses the master bath takes care of their wet towels. I found  two door knob assemblies for $10.00 each and knew immediately that they would become my towel knobs. No pictures yet because I couldn’t dig them out of the truck  They are buried under a headboard and four chairs.  My Pinnspiration  for this project comes from Not Just a Housewife

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I will be taking the lock unit apart for a total of four knobs and lock units as hangers. There is a big empty wall behind my tub that needs love

. Super cute DIY Floating Shelves for my bathroom (also window treatment) 20140304-192641.jpg At the end of my tub I want to hang some rustic shelves. I am thinking about something like what you see below but I just got an old section of fencing that I may add shelves to and hang as a unit. There will be rustic shelves at the end of the tub one way or another with some of my milk glass and other water-safe treasures. Shanty 2 Chick DIY Bathroom Wall Makeover They are going to go along the wall that the shower and tub are on. Right now I have a very generic metal thing hanging there because I guess I was waiting for inspiration. I Craftycreationswithkiley  ( No Longer A Live Site) I really like the look of these letters. The bottom of my wall is going to be board and batten. Securing Board and Batten I love a good DIY tutorial. DIY VILLAGE Do you remember my vanity?

the finished vanity

I posted the finished project at My Burb Home, but I wanted you to see how it looks in the bathroom. It is missing the awesome mirror we found this past weekend, but hopefully you get the idea. 20140304-192624.jpg

I believe that there was originally a large round mirror on this vanity and was happy to find one that I think could have been orginal.  The bathroom is coming together in my head and for me that is half the battle.  Once I can see what I want in my imagination I am ready to go.  Now to turn that into a reality.
I would love to hear your thoughts on my plans. I get the best ideas from you all.

Weekend Finds at Canton

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Saturday could not have been a better day to go to one of the oldest and largest Trade Days in Texas. The sun was shining and it was 62degrees when we pulled up.  We pulled up to the site with about 100,000 others.

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We are parked across the street from that line of cars.  Somewhere in that mass.  I couldn’t pass up showing you that our trees are budding out here.  Spring really is coming.

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Can you imagine living in a sleepy little town about 26 days a month, only to be overrun four days just prior to the first Monday of each month? I am pretty sure we are a mixed blessing to the residents.  These Trade Days are run by the city of Canton and have been since 1850.   They have a web page, a Facebook page, and you can even get an App for your phone to help you while you are there.   The visitors provide jobs, allow the town to have amenities that would not be available otherwise and we pay sales taxes.  We also clog the roads, fill the restaurants to overflowing, walk on the grass, and in general shut down town.  Sorry, Canton.

The official Trade Days site is huge, but there are several other Trade Days sites in Canton too.  We like The Village, too but did not make it this weekend.

Trade Days are generally pet friendly.  You see dogs everywhere in Trade Days.

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The front of the Trade Days site is mostly, but not all, new items and commercial items.  The booths are under cover and are a fun place for me to get ideas.  There was the coolest place with porch swings made out of a twin bed mattress and rope but they would not give me permission to photograph and I don’t take pictures without permission.  Here are a few of the sites that either had signs saying it was okay to photograph or with permission.

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The middle section has a big variety of food booths, garage sale like items, and the unexpected.

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I bought four of these chairs.  They are going to be beautiful.

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There are row upon winding row of booths.  It would take a whole day to just go through this area.

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I look for specific things in this area. I found a window in the site above. I struck out this year on looking for window that is solid glass for a project, but oh well.

The very back of Trade Days is my favorite. Here is a hint. If you like to look for table legs, furniture, industrial lights, and a variety of things “in the raw”… not shined up, cleaned up, or organized, this is your place. The vendors are crusty, the sites are a maze.
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Burlap sacks are $1.00 each in this area.

To go directly to this part of the site enter at the West Gate.

We found this headboard on the last row of the whole place.  It is going to be a bench for a friend.  I just missed the buffet it is leaning against.  It would have been my bathroom vanity.  Someone got this for a steal.  I am jealous.

headboard

We bought a mirror for the vanity, two door knob units and some architectural pieces, too while we were out. You will see them soon.

There are a ton of bed and breakfasts nearby but we decided to go at the last minute and they were full. We stayed at Best Western.
My favorite time of the year to go to Canton is October, November, March, and April. It is BOILING hot in summer and could be rainy or cold in winter. We were lucky because the weather Saturday was beautiful. We got up Sunday to temperatures 30 degrees cooler.
If you ever get the chance to go, wear comfortable shoes, pace yourself and enjoy yourself. Let me know if you get to go. I would love to hear your adventures.
Blessings,
Karen

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